Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre prepares to open

Non-profit will run the facility and agencies will provide staff

In less than two weeks Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre should be open to help victims of child abuse.

Renovations are underway at the centre’s temporary Red Deer office at the Bunn Building at 4820 Gaetz Ave.

“We’re hoping to have a soft launch on Nov. 29,” said the centre’s CEO Mark Jones on Friday.

“If we don’t have an actual pending case, we’re going to bring some old cases to see how they were done and how they can be done in the future.”

Modelled after the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre in Calgary, the centre will have several resources like RCMP, family services, mental health, addictions programs and the Crown prosecutor’s office in one location to avoid duplication and gaps in service.

In June 2016, a Red Deer coalition received $150,000 to assess the needs of the region and develop an operational plan for a local advocacy centre. The funding was part of $1.7 million to support existing child advocacy centres in Calgary, Edmonton, Grande Prairie, as well as emerging centres in Fort McMurray, Lethbridge, Lloydminster and Red Deer.

Jones said some of that money will be put towards utilities and rent. Most of the labour for renovations have been donated. Painting and flooring were underway Friday. Phone lines and video cameras for interview rooms will be connected next week.

“The electrical work should be done by the end of the day today.”

He said the downtown location is central location. It’s a quick walk from the RCMP detachment and the hospital.

Bringing people to one location to investigate and treat child abuse will reduce the number of times children are interviewed, he said.

“Ninety-two per cent of all the cases out of Sheldon Kennedy centre do one interview. Rather than three or four interviews and reliving the trauma over and over again, it’s one forensic interview.”

Those single video interviews can also used as evidence in court if necessary, he said.

“We’re excited to get started. We’re excited to bring this to not only Red Deer, but Central Alberta. It gives people hope to to be able to start the healing process,” Jones said.

“You get the help, then you have hope, and you have healing.”


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